U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2001 - Uganda
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||4 March 2002|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2001 - Uganda , 4 March 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3c84d99c0.html [accessed 8 October 2015]|
|Comments||The report entitled "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State in compliance with sections 116(d) and 502(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, and section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended. The law provides that the Secretary of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, by February 25 "a full and complete report regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights, within the meaning of subsection (A) in countries that receive assistance under this part, and (B) in all other foreign countries which are members of the United Nations and which are not otherwise the subject of a human rights report under this Act." We have also included reports on several countries that do not fall into the categories established by these statutes and that thus are not covered by the congressional requirement.|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
On March 12, President Yoweri Museveni was reelected to a second 5-year term under the Constitution and continued to dominate the Government. He has ruled since 1986 through the National Resistance Movement, legislatively reorganized and renamed as "The Movement" in 1995. The Constitution provides for a 295-member unicameral parliament and an autonomous, independently elected president. The number of Members of Parliament (M.P.'s) increased following the implementation of a new law, which increased the number of districts, and an amendment to the Parliamentary Elections Statute, which increased the number of seats reserved for women and labor. On March 12, six candidates competed in the presidential elections, including President Museveni and Kizza Besigye, a former member of the army and presidential advisor. President Museveni won with 69.3 percent of the total votes cast, with 27.3 percent of the votes cast for Besigye. The four other candidates received less than 4 percent of the vote. The institution of Parliament is weak compared with the Executive. The Parliament acted with continued independence and assertiveness during the year; however, this decreased significantly prior to the June parliamentary elections. In June parliamentary elections were held separately for the reserved and directly elected seats; M.P.'s were elected to 5-year terms, and more than 50 percent of those elected were new legislators. Movement supporters remained in control of the legislative branch; however, the number of M.P.'s openly belonging to opposition parties increased to 35 from 12, although the actual number probably is higher since the affiliations of several M.P.'s are unclear. Observers believed that the March presidential and June parliamentary elections generally reflected the will of the population; however, both were marred seriously, particularly in the period leading up the elections, by restrictions on political party activities, incidents of violence, intimidation, fraud, and electoral irregularities that led to a flawed election process. A 2000 national referendum, on the role of political parties formally extended the Movement form of government indefinitely and severely restricted political activities; it was under review at year's end. The referendum process was flawed by restrictions on political party activities and unequal funding. During the year, the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) began work to amend the 1995 Constitution. The judiciary generally is independent but is understaffed and weak; the President has extensive legal powers.
The Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF) is the key security force. The Constitution provides for civilian control of the UPDF, with the President designated as commander in chief; in July the President relinquished his post as Minister of Defense and named a civilian for the first time. The UPDF remained active due to the continued instability in the north, northeast, and west and because of the country's involvement in the conflict in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). UPDF soldiers and members of Local Defense Units (LDU's) assist the police in rural areas. LDU's operate under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs but without a legal mandate. The Internal Security Organization (ISO) remained under the direct authority of the President. Although the ISO primarily is an intelligence-gathering body, its operatives occasionally detained civilians. The Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), which also is known as the Chief of Military Intelligence (CMI) and is under UPDF control, detained civilians suspected of rebel and terrorist activity. The police are organized as a national force under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. All security forces are under government control and are responsive to the Government. The UPDF, police, LDU's, and the DMI all committed serious human rights abuses.
The country's population is approximately 23 million. The economy grew at a rate of approximately 5.1 percent during the year. Annual gross domestic product (GDP) was $320 (505,000 shillings) per capita. Foreign economic assistance provides approximately 52 percent of government revenues. The agriculturally based economy continued to rely on coffee as its chief export. Foreign investment remained steady at approximately 4 percent of GDP amid chronic and serious levels of corruption and continuing concerns about regional security in the wake of the country's intervention in the DRC. The pace of the privatization process increased due to the Government's privatization of the Uganda Electricity Board (UEB). The privatization of UEB, including sectors for transmission, distribution, and generation, are expected to be finalized by 2002. The financial sector was strengthened due to improved lending practices and more stringent supervision by the central bank. In October the Government opened bids for the sale of one of the largest commercial banks in the country, the Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB), and the Stanbic bank of South Africa won; the deal was expected to be finalized in 2002.
The Government's human rights record was poor, and there continued to be numerous, serious problems. Movement domination of the political process limited the right of citizens to change their government. Security forces used excessive force, at times resulting in death, and committed or failed to prevent some extrajudicial killings of suspected rebels and civilians. Security forces killed and injured several persons while intervening in clashes between supporters of different political candidates. UPDF forces committed fewer abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Police, LDU, and DMI forces regularly beat suspects and other persons, often to force confessions. There were a few reports that security forces tortured suspects, primarily during the periods around the elections. Police arrested several persons who later claimed to have been tortured or beaten while in custody. A highly publicized 1999 report on police corruption released to the public in May uncovered numerous serious abuses committed by senior officers and contributed to the arrest of several officers on charges of extortion and abuse of office, which resulted in the appointment of a new chief of police during the year. There were a number of cases in which the Government detained and charged UPDF and LDU members for human rights abuses. Prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening. Members of the security forces sometimes arbitrarily arrested and detained civilians, including opposition politicians and their supporters. Authorities used incommunicado detention. Despite measures to improve the discipline and training of security forces, and despite the punishment of some security force officials guilty of abuses, abuses by the security forces at times resulted in deaths and remained a problem throughout the country. Such abuses increased in the periods prior to the March presidential and June parliamentary elections. Prolonged pretrial detention remained a problem. Poor judicial administration, lack of resources, a large case backlog, and lengthy trial delays circumscribed due process and the right to a fair trial, although some detainees secured their release by accepting amnesty. The UPDF at times infringed on citizens' privacy rights. Female members of the police force no longer are required to obtain permission from the police Inspector General before marrying.
The Government generally respected freedom of speech and of the press; however, there were some instances in which the Government infringed on these rights. The Government restricted freedom of assembly and association, and the constitutional restrictions on political activity effectively continued to limit these rights; however, political parties continued operating with fewer restrictions than in previous years. There were some limits on freedom of movement. The Movement Secretariat, supported with government funds, oversaw internal organizational activity, strategy, and mobilization, and actively campaigned for candidates during the presidential and parliamentary elections. The Government continued its Movement political education courses, although they were suspended during elections; the courses are not mandatory. Domestic violence against women, rape, and abuse of children remained serious problems. Discrimination against women and persons with disabilities persisted. The Government worked with nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) to combat the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), which occurred on a limited basis. There were fewer incidents of violence against ethnic minorities. There were some limits on worker rights. Forced labor, including by children, occurred, and child labor was common, mostly in the informal sector. There were reports of trafficking in persons. Vigilante justice also was a problem.
Insurgent forces committed numerous serious abuses. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group in the western part of the country whose activities decreased during the year, killed and abducted persons, including children. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a terrorist organization led by Joseph Kony, and in the past supported by the Government of Sudan, operated in the north from bases in southern Sudan. LRA attacks decreased during the year; however, the LRA continued to kill and abduct civilians, including children.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no confirmed reports of politically motivated killings by government forces; however, members of the security forces and the police committed extrajudicial killings. In the course of official operations, police, UPDF, LDU, and DMI personnel sometimes used excessive force, resulting in deaths.
Police and security forces killed several persons during the year. For example, on April 11, members of an LDU shot and killed two persons and injured another in Rwenkuba sub-county, Burahya, Kabarole district. The district Officer-in-Charge of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) confirmed the incident and stated that those responsible were arrested and later charged with murder; they were in detention pending trial at year's end. On July 27, a policeman shot and killed Makerere University student George Babigumira; the officer was charged with murder, and the investigation was pending at year's end. On August 3, police arrested Constable Issa Sewatti for the killing of Annet Nakimuli on August 31 during an eviction in a Kampala suburb. On September 14, a court in Kampala charged Sewatti with murder, and he was remanded to Luzira Prison and still was in detention at year's end.
Security forces killed several persons while intervening in clashes between supporters of different political candidates. For example, on March 3, Presidential Protection Unit (PPU) soldiers opened fire during a clash between supporters of President Museveni and Kizza Besigye, Museveni's primary opponent in the election, in the southwestern town of Rukungiri, killing one person and injuring several others. There were no reports of any action taken to investigate the incident.
In February four Besigye supporters were killed when a truck driven by a UPDF member drove into a crowd waiting for a campaign rally.
On June 28, UPDF soldiers reportedly killed a woman and injured 14 others at the Pabbo Displaced People's camp, Kilak County, after supporters of parliamentary candidate Colonel Julius Oketa clashed with supporters of his rival Michael Nyeko Oculia. The soldiers allegedly shot into the crowd to disperse them. There was no investigation or other action taken against the soldiers responsible by year's end.
Security forces killed several Karamojong raiders and others involved in cattle raids during clashes following the raids. On January 3, UPDF soldiers shot and killed 12 persons in Moroto district, after the soldiers allegedly tried to steal cattle from the town of Lomarototi. On January 13, the soldiers reportedly were arrested; however, no further action was taken by year's end. Also in January, UPDF soldiers allegedly killed 17 armed Karamojong raiders at Amoratoit village in Katakwi district. There were no reports of any action taken against the soldiers. On April 21, UPDF soldiers killed six armed Karamojong raiders in two separate encounters in Katakwi district. There were no reports of any investigation into the incident. On September 12, a UPDF helicopter gunship fired upon the villages of Thakale, Lothomit, and Alemkere in Nabilatuk sub-county, Nakapiripiti district, which resulted in the deaths of at least 18 armed Karamojong raiders who earlier had attacked the UPDF.
During the year, there was a significant increase in armed carjackings along the Entebbe highway between Kampala and Entebbe. The police announced a shoot-to-kill policy to discourage additional carjackings and robberies because some of the victims were foreign nationals; however, there was no indication that the police made this an official policy or that persons were killed under this policy. The carjackings decreased significantly after this order was publicized.
Harsh conditions, some intentional mistreatment, and lack of adequate medical treatment caused many deaths in prison (see Section 1.c.).
Unlike in previous years, there were no reports of fighting between UPDF and Rwandan army troops in the DRC, and there were no reports of any action taken against members of either army for abuses committed during the 2000 fighting in Kisangani. Reports of killings and widespread human rights abuses by both pro- and anti-DRC government forces, including the UPDF and ethnic tribes, continued in the conflict in the DRC. On July 7, the Government convicted UPDF Private Otim Okello for the May 23 killing of six Congolese civilian inmates at a police station in Gemina, eastern DRC; three of those killed had been arrested on suspicion that they had stolen money from Okello's girlfriend. On July 3, a UPDF court-martial sitting in the DRC sentenced to death Okello, who remained in Luzira prison at year's end.
Verification of reports of abuses committed by UPDF forces in the DRC was extremely difficult, particularly those emanating from remote areas and those affected by active combat, primarily in eastern DRC. Independent observers often found access difficult due to hazardous security conditions and frequent impediments imposed by authorities. Both pro- and anti-DRC government forces extensively used propaganda disseminated via local media, including accusations of abuse by opposing forces, further complicating efforts to obtain accurate information regarding such events.
Throughout the year in the Ituri district in Orientale Province of the DRC, an area dominated by UPDF and UPDF-supported forces, fighting continued between members of the Lendu and Hema tribes, which reportedly resulted in the deaths of thousands of persons and displaced tens of thousands of others. For example, on January 19, in a UPDF controlled area, the UPDF were accused of not intervening in fighting between members of the Lendu and Hema tribes. More than 200 persons reportedly were killed and tens of thousands of others were displaced. On April 26, six employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), including two foreigners, were killed in Ituri district. The Government promised an investigation into the killings; however, no credible investigation had begun by year's end. ICRC field operations still were suspended at year's end.
On May 28, the Ministry of Internal Affairs released the 1999 Judicial Commission of Inquiry report into corruption in the police force. The report is the outcome of an investigation by the Commission, set up to investigate incidents of mismanagement and abuse of office, brutality, killings, theft, and robbery by police forces, particularly the CID. The Commission recommended reform of the police force, including the removal of senior police officers found to be incompetent or those who had acquired wealth fraudulently. Five high-ranking police officers subsequently were fired, and the Inspector General of Government was investigating the wealth of senior police officers as recommended by the Commission at year's end.
There reportedly was no action taken against the members of the security forces responsible for the following killings in 2000: The January killing of two LRA terrorists in Gulu; and the January killing of six persons in the Kampala suburb of Kabalagala. No action reportedly was taken against the UPDF soldiers who allegedly shot and killed nine persons at a wedding party in the village of Kikere, near Butembo, North Kivu Province, DRC, in 2000.
Government cases against two UPDF soldiers accused of killing five youths in Fort Portal, Kabarole district, in 1999, still were pending at year's end. The two soldiers were on remand in Katojo prison facing murder charges.
There reportedly was no action taken against the members of the security forces responsible for the following killings in 1999: The October and July beatings to death of two prisoners; the September clash in response to an attack on the UPDF that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Karamojong raiders; and the May killing of an unarmed youth.
During the year, the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) branch in Gulu closed for lack of evidence the case in which UPDF soldiers were accused of killing 30 Acholi children in 1998 in Kitgum. In March the UHRC Tribunal awarded approximately $5,700 (10 million shillings) to Lydia Nabuwemba for the disappearance and killing of her husband while in police custody in 1998.
There were several killings in the period prior to the March presidential election. For example, on January 10, unknown assailants shot and killed a Museveni campaign task force member after he attended a strategy meeting. On January 12, two men allegedly were killed in two separate villages in the east while putting up posters for presidential candidate Besigye.
There also were several killings in the period prior to the June parliamentary election. For example, on June 24, Edward Kamana Wesonga, M.P. for Bubulo West, reportedly shot at random to disperse a crowd and killed Sergeant Maxwell Wasswa, a bodyguard of his election opponent, after supporters of the two men clashed following an argument in Bukiga sub-county, Manjiya County. Police in the eastern town of Mbale arrested Wesonga for the killing, and he subsequently was charged with murder and remanded to Malukhu Government Prison. On September 14, Wesonga was granted bail of approximately $2,850 (5 million shillings), and his trial was pending at year's end.
On June 26, police in Mbale arrested Hoima Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Simon Mulongo, after his bodyguard killed an opponent in Buwabwala sub-county, Bubulo East Constituency. Angry supporters of the opponent subsequently beat to death the bodyguard and four other persons who were traveling with Mulongo. Mulongo reportedly was released later; however, there was no report of action taken to investigate the incident.
On June 26, Vincent Nyanzi, former Minister of State for Gender, Labor, and Social Development and M.P. for Busujju county, Mubende district, central Buganda, allegedly killed Vincent Mwebesa, a supporter of his opponent, in Banda parish, in Mubende. On July 3, police arrested Nyanzi, and later in July he was charged with murder and remanded to Luzira Prison. On August 29, Nyanzi was granted bail of approximately $2,850 (5 million shillings); his trial was pending at year's end. Also in June, parliamentary candidate Otieno Akika shot at voters who allegedly were disorderly, killing one person. Akika disappeared and had not been seen by year's end.
During the year, there were a series of urban bombings in Kampala and other cities that resulted in several deaths. On January 28, three bomb explosions killed four persons and injured seven persons in three different areas of Kampala; four men were arrested in connection with these bombings and were charged with treason. Their trial was pending at year's end. On March 14, two bombs exploded in Kampala and Mitala Maria on Masaka Road, central Buganda, which killed two persons and injured six others; two men were arrested in connection with these bombings and were in detention pending their treason trial at year's end. On March 17, a hand grenade thrown at pedestrians near Kampala's Old Taxi Park killed one person and injured four others. On July 7, three homemade pipe bombs exploded in Jinja, which killed one person and injured seven others. In July 28 persons, some accused of being ADF members, were arrested for the attacks and paraded around Kampala; 13 out of the 28 were charged with treason and remained on remand pending their trial at year's end. On September 18, three persons were killed when an unknown person threw a grenade into a house in Namunyu village, Bumasobo parish, Bulambuli county, Sironko district. No one has claimed responsibility for any of these attacks.
There were no developments in the October 2000 grenade attacks in Kampala and Gulu, which resulted in the deaths of nine persons. It was unknown who was responsible for any of the attacks.
There were reports that civilians were killed and injured during fights between UPDF forces and rebels. For example, on April 28, five persons were killed and two others were injured during a confrontation between UPDF forces and the LRA terrorists at the Pece-Lokung Trading Center in Laroo Division in Gulu district.
LRA attacks decreased during the year; however, there were numerous LRA attacks on villages and displaced person camps in which persons were killed, injured, raped, or abducted (see Sections 1.b. and 2.d.). During the year, LRA attacks resulted in approximately 115 deaths, including of children, numerous injuries, and the destruction of homes and property. No new incidents of mutilation were reported. In the west and southwest, the ADF continued to attack civilian targets, trading centers, and private homes, resulting in several deaths, injuries, and abductions; however, ADF activity decreased during the year. The ADF killed at least 15 persons, including children, and abducted up to 20 persons during the year (see Sections 1.b., 1.c., 6.c., and 6.f.).
On March 12, LRA terrorists killed nine persons in Lagile and Awere sub-counties, Aruu County, Pader district, including former presidential candidate Besigye's task force district chairman and the chairman's son. On March 17, suspected ADF rebels killed 10 persons, injured an unknown number of persons, and burned 54 vehicles when they attacked the town of Kasese in the west. On March 27, LRA terrorists killed 12 persons, including a group of students and their director, and injured several others in an ambush in the Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest. On September 1, LRA terrorists killed one relief worker and four civilians in an ambush in Gulu. On November 24, unknown rebels killed one foreign Catholic priest and two other foreign persons. No progress was made in any of these cases by year's end.
Protected villages or camps for internally displaced persons (IDP's) also were the targets of large-scale rebel attacks during the year. For example, in June gunmen believed to be LRA terrorists attacked Maaji Refugee Camp near Adjumani Town, killing three Sudanese refugees and injuring seven others.
Unlike in previous years, there were no reports that the LRA and the ADF used landmines. There continued to be deaths and injuries from previously laid landmines during the year.
At year's end, the UPDF were continuing to pursue the LRA terrorists who killed Father Raffale Di Bari of the Comboni missionary Fathers in October 2000 and Kitgum RDC J.B. Ochaya and seven others in July 2000.
Raids by armed Karamojong raiders, which increased during the year, were concentrated in Katakwi district in the northeast and resulted in approximately 51 deaths and more than 80,000 IDP's (see Section 2.d.). Reportedly 150 persons, including several relief workers, were killed in road ambushes in Karamoja since November 2000. In August a state of emergency was declared in Katakwi district following repeated attacks by Karamojong raiders; the state of emergency was lifted by year's end. During the year, the Government launched a disarmament program for the Karamojong in order to stop the killings (see Section 5). UPDF forces also took action against the Karamojong raiders, which resulted in the killings of several Karamojong raiders.
During the year, there were some attacks by Rwandese Hutu rebels in the southern district of Kisoro; two civilians reportedly were killed during the attacks.
There were no credible reports that UNRF-II, USF/A, or the Citizens Army for Multiparty Politics (CAMP) were responsible for the death of civilians during the year. These groups have been inactive for years and are returning to the country under an amnesty program (see Sections 1.d. and 1.e.).
Incidents of vigilante justice increased and were reported almost daily during the year (see Section 1.c.). Authorities rarely prosecuted persons who engaged in mob violence, which frequently resulted in death. Most mob attacks targeted criminals or alleged witches. There were numerous instances in which mobs beat to death or doused with gasoline and then burned to death petty theft suspects. For example, on October 3, a mob burned to death a suspected thief after a failed motorcycle robbery near Kampala.
There were fewer reports of ritual killings of children during the year (see Section 5).
There were no confirmed reports of politically motivated disappearances due to action by government forces.
On February 4, unidentified gunmen reportedly abducted Ahmed Mugere and Richard Mutebi, two supporters of presidential candidate Besigye; their whereabouts were unknown at year's end.
The ADF and the LRA abducted civilians. Both the ADF and the LRA abducted civilians for training as guerrillas and as sex slaves and porters; most victims were children and young adults. During the year, the ADF abducted fewer than 20 persons, including children; the LRA abducted more than 50 persons, including children and young girls (see Section 1.c.). An estimated 30,893 persons have been abducted by the ADF and LRA since 1986 (see Sections 5 and 6.c.). While some later escaped or were rescued, including many during the year, UNICEF estimated that 5,555 children abducted by the LRA since 1986 remained missing at year's end, and approximately 308 children abducted by the ADF since 1986 remained missing at year's end. NGO's estimated that since 1996 the ADF has abducted more than 1,000 Ugandan children. Under the Amnesty Act signed by the President in 2000, government assistance is being provided to former rebels to assist their return to the country.
Reports continued that Karamojong warriors abducted women as part of their traditional practice in which they claim unmarried women as wives by raping them (see Section 5).
Reportedly persons who were detained by anti-DRC government forces, including UPDF and Rwandan military forces, sometimes were transferred to Rwanda or Uganda. In August 2000, UPDF forces based in Bunia, eastern DRC, brought to the country 163 Congolese children allegedly rescued from Congolese ethnic clashes. While in the country, the children underwent political education and military training at the National Leadership Institute (NLI) in Kyakwanzi. In February the children, classified as child soldiers, were handed over to UNICEF and later returned to the DRC in July (see Section 5).
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports from the DRC that UPDF troops abducted women from the villages they raided. There were confirmed reports that some UPDF members married Congolese women who later voluntarily left the DRC with their soldier husbands; there were no reports of forcible abductions.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution prohibits such practices; however, security forces commonly beat criminal suspects, often to force confessions. There were a few reports that security forces tortured suspects, primarily during the periods prior to and after the March and June elections (see Section 3).
Police arrested several persons who later claimed to have been tortured or beaten while in custody (see Section 1.d.).
On April 11, LDU members shot and killed two persons and injured another in Rwenkuba sub-county, Burahya, Kabarole district, in the west (see Section 1.a.).
Security forces injured several persons while intervening in clashes between supporters of different political candidates during the year (see Section 1.a.). On March 3, PPU soldiers opened fire during a clash between Museveni and Besigye supporters in Rukungiri and injured several persons (see Section 1.a.). On June 28, UPDF soldiers reportedly injured 14 persons at the Pabbo Displaced People's camp, Kilak County, after supporters of parliamentary candidate Colonel Julius Oketa clashed with supporters of his rival Michael Nyeko Oculia (see Section 1.a.).
On March 12, the presidential election day, there were reports of intimidation of voters in Gulu by the UPDF. There also were reports of incidents in which soldiers beat voters during the June parliamentary elections in Mbarara, Lira, Kyoga, and Otuke (see Section 3).
Police and security forces at times harassed and detained opposition activists (see Sections 1.d., 2.b., and 3). There were reports of police and security force intimidation of opposition supporters and at opposition rallies in the period prior to the presidential election. Major Kakooza Mutale, Presidential Advisor on Political Affairs, actively harassed and intimidated opposition supporters, occasionally with violence. For example, in January there were reports of PPU intimidation of opposition candidates in Rukungiri. In July Lydia Kamanyi, the deputy campaign manager for Aggrey Awori, was forced to take leave from her position following harassment by officials.
There were reports that security forces harassed and briefly detained journalists (see Section 2.a.).
In accordance with the Lusaka Accords, the Government withdrew approximately half of its troops from the DRC during the year.
There were reports that UPDF forces were involved in violence between the Hema and Lendu tribes in northeastern DRC that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Congolese civilians (see Section 1.a.). There were no reports of developments in the 2000 case in which two senior UPDF officers were arrested for their involvement in violence between the Hema and Lendu in the DRC.
On April 16, the U.N. Panel of Experts on the "Illegal Exploitation of Congolese Resources and Other Forms of Wealth" in the DRC released a report that accused various foreign armies in the DRC, including the UPDF, of exploiting the DRC's minerals and other resources, as well as committing human rights abuses. In May the Government set up the "Judicial Commission into Illegal Exploitation of DRC's Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth by Uganda" to investigate the allegations raised in the U.N. report. On July 19, the Commission, headed by Justice David Porter, began public hearings. A report of findings was scheduled to be released in February 2002. In October the Commission released an interim report that found no evidence to support allegations involving President Museveni and members of his family but acknowledged that this was not a definitive finding. The Commission's lack of access to evidence, witnesses, and adequate funding has hampered its operations.
There were fewer reports during the year that members of the LDU's, who frequently lack training, mistreated prisoners and detainees.
The police Human Rights Desk, established in 1998, received 317 new complaints during the year, including allegations of excessive force, torture, assault, rape, and murder. A report on these incidents was being compiled and was expected to be released in January 2002.
In conjunction with the UHRC and the Makerere University Faculty of Law, the police continued a training program for police officials to foster respect for internationally recognized human rights standards. The UHRC and NGO's conducted similar programs with UPDF officials during the year.
The Government investigated some cases of abuse, and tried and punished some offenders (see Section 1.a.).
In June 2000, police beat and arrested 11 Makerere University students after they disrupted a referendum rally held by the President. They subsequently were charged with misconduct and alarming the President and released on bail. At the beginning of the year, all charges were dropped (see Section 2.b.), and no action was taken against the responsible officers.
In February 2000, businessman Charles Mpunga accused Major Kakooza Mutale of detaining and torturing him at Mbuya military barracks in January 2000. In July 2000, the UHRC tribunal ruled that there was enough evidence to proceed with a case against Mutale; the UHRC charged Mutale and found him guilty of torture and illegal imprisonment. Mutale appealed the ruling to the High Court, claiming that the UHRC lacked jurisdiction. His case still was pending at year's end, and the UHRC was waiting for the High Court's ruling before penalizing Mutale.
In February 2000, a police constable in Kayunga, Mukono district, allegedly tortured two civilians and demanded money in order to release them from jail. In March 2000, the police constable was arrested. The case was under investigation by the Mukono district police, and the constable remained in detention at year's end on charges of unlawfully detaining civilians and disobeying orders.
There were no developments in case of the UPDF reserve force commander for Tororo district who was arrested for torturing and beating of civilians and two police officers in March 2000; he remained in detention pending a court-martial at year's end. There also were no developments in the case in which Major Dick Bugingo, a commanding officer in the PPU, was summoned by the UHRC tribunal on charges that he tortured Sergeant Godfrey Mubiru in March 2000.
There were no reports of any action taken against the responsible members of the police who beat or otherwise abused persons in the following cases from 2000: The September forcible dispersal of a Uganda Young Democrats (UYD) meeting in Gulu; the June beating of 11 Makerere University students; the April beating of Ahmed Washaki, an official of the Uganda People's Congress (UPC); and the March forcible dispersal of an unauthorized rally in Mbarara. No action was taken against members of the UPDF responsible for abuses committed in Kisangani in 2000.
In 1999 the Government launched a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into police corruption. The Commission probed a wide range of police abuses, including abuses committed by senior police officials. The inquiry resulted in the arrests of several police officers on charges of abuse, rape, extortion, and robbery, including a police officer accused of raping a 16-year-old girl. The Commission presented its report to the Minister of Internal Affairs in May 2000, and publicly released a report with recommendations in May (see Section 1.a.). In February 1999, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), an independent local human rights organization, began an investigation into allegations that two policemen, Moses Lutaya and Ephraim Magala, were tortured by their superiors during the same month for stealing bananas while on duty. In February 1999, FHRI found that the two were tortured under the orders of the Mpigi district police commander. Lutaya and Magala subsequently were compensated by the Mpigi district administration with approximately $750 (1.26 million shillings) and were reinstated in their jobs. The senior officers were transferred; however, no additional action was taken against them.
There were no reported developments in the August 1999 case in which an LDU member shot and injured a businessman in Kisenyi, a suburb of Fort Portal; the LDU member reportedly was apprehended and detained by the UPDF. There were no reported developments in the February 1999 case in which two LDU personnel reportedly raped two teenaged girls at Kabujogera police post in Fort Portal; the accused were arrested pending a police investigation.
There were no reports of any action taken against the responsible members of the police who tortured, beat, raped, or otherwise abused persons in the following cases from 1999: The case of Patrick Ocan; and the October beating of a man while in custody.
In January the UHRC tribunal awarded approximately $2,800 (5 million shillings) to Corporal Sam Muwonge; in June 2000, the UHRC tribunal ruled that the former Permanent Secretary for Defense, Benjamin Mbonye, and Captain Sulait Mwesigye were responsible for the 1997 arrest and torture of Muwonge. On June 28, the UHRC Tribunal awarded approximately $2,800 (5 million shillings) to S. Erau as compensation for his 18-day detention, torture, and loss of property by the UPDF and police in 1999. On December 5, the UHRC tribunal ordered the Government to pay $900 (1.5 million shillings) in general damages to Dan Okello as compensation for illegal arrest and torture. Okello reportedly had been arrested in December 1998 on the order of the Moroto district Police Commander.
There were reports that civilians were injured during fights between UPDF forces and rebels (see Section 1.a.).
There were several instances of violence in the period prior to the March presidential election (see Section 3). There were reports of violence, harassment, intimidation, and in a few cases, attempted murder, assault, and robbery. Police reported processing 101 cases of election-related violence in January; violence increased in February. For example, in January unknown persons allegedly shot and injured seven Besigye supporters. There also were reports that unknown persons beat supporters of President Museveni; police took no action. In late January, there were allegations that armed gunmen attacked candidate Chapaa Karuhanga's campaign team along the Kampala-Mubende Road. In February Museveni supporters beat a Besigye supporter for carrying posters of Besigye in Luweero. There also were reports that unknown persons made death threats against presidential candidates.
On February 4, while addressing a rally in Kampala, Ken Lukyamuzi, opposition M.P. for Lubaga North, Kampala, urged the public to injure or kill any foreigners who attempted to vote in the March presidential elections. On February 9, Nasser Sebaggala, prominent opposition figure and former Kampala mayor, allegedly repeated Lukyamuzi's calls for violence against foreigners during a rally in Mukono. On February 12, police in Kampala arrested and charged Lukyamuzi and Sebaggala with inciting violence; they were released on bail, and their cases were pending at year's end.
During the year, there were a series of urban bombings in several cities, which resulted in 8 deaths and more than 32 injuries (see Section 1.a.). For example, on June 4, bomb explosions in three simultaneous attacks in Kampala injured 15 persons; ADF rebels were suspected of involvement.
Reports of violations of humanitarian law decreased in the west, but remained a problem, to a lesser degree, in the north. The number of reported violations by the Government decreased during the year, as did violations by the LRA.
Unlike in previous years, there were no reports that the ADF mutilated civilians or that the LRA or the ADF used landmines; however, there continued to be reports that the LRA and ADF looted and burned private homes. The LRA in particular tortured and beat children. The LRA continued to abduct children and, at clandestine bases, terrorized them into virtual slavery as guards, concubines, and soldiers (see Sections 6.c. and 6.f.). In addition to being beaten, raped, and forced to march until exhausted, abducted children were forced to participate in the killing of other children who attempted to escape. There also were several rebel attacks in which persons were injured and homes and property were destroyed (see Section 1.a.).
There were numerous instances in which mobs attacked suspected thieves and other offenders caught in the commission of crimes (see Section 1.a.). Often motivated by widespread distrust or misunderstanding of the justice system, these mobs engaged in stonings, beatings, and other forms of mistreatment, such as tying suspects' wrists and ankles together behind their backs, stripping suspects of their clothes and parading them through the streets, or forcing suspects to hop painfully on the sides of their ankles. Unlike in previous years, there were no reports that vigilantes stripped prostitutes who dressed "indecently" or "provocatively."
Prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening. Conditions for the estimated 15,000 inmates in the various prisons and police cells particularly were bad. The 1999 UHRC report released in December 2000 cited severely inadequate medical services, seriously unhygienic conditions, and "semi-starvation" among prisoners in many prisons (see Section 6.c.). The investigator also received complaints from female prisoners that prison authorities tortured them. There were no developments in the investigation into the May 2000 case in which prison wardens tortured four inmates and allegations from female prisoners that they had been tortured by prison authorities at Lira government prison in the north; however, the UHRC tribunal was scheduled to begin hearings on the case in March 2002. In March 800 inmates staged a protest at Mbale central prison to protest inadequate food and delays in the judicial review of their cases. Authority over the local prison system remained with the Ministry of Local Government. Both civilian and military prisons were believed to have high mortality rates from overcrowding, malnutrition, diseases spread by unsanitary conditions, and HIV/AIDS; however, no accurate estimates were available on the number of deaths in detention due to the harsh conditions and lack of medical care; however, NGO's estimated that the mortality rate in the central prison system decreased. There were no developments in the investigation into the June 1999 death of Matia Kiwanuka Mulama, who reportedly died after having been tortured by the chief warden of Buikwe prison. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that prisoners were forced to exhume bodies.
The harsh conditions largely resulted from the Government's seriously inadequate funding of prison facilities. Most of the prisons grew maize, millet, and vegetables, although the UHRC accused prison farms of overworking inmates. Prisoners received only $.0006 (1 shilling) per day for their labor, a rate established in the early 1960's (see Section 6.c.). Prison conditions come closest to meeting international standards in Kampala, where prisons provide medical care, running water, and sanitation; however, these prisons also are among the most overcrowded. By one estimate, the country's prisons hold approximately three times their maximum planned capacity. The central prison system continued to work with NGO's and the donor community to improve prison buildings, water and sanitation systems, food, and uniforms. Progress has been marginal. Although the law provides for access to prisoners by their families, ignorance of this right and fear of prison authorities often limit family visits. The UHRC reported that it had received allegations that officers in charge of police cells sometimes demanded bribes to allow visits.
In 2000 the President signed the Community Service Act, designed to reduce prison congestion by allowing minor offenders to do community service instead of being imprisoned. In November the Community Service Act was implemented with the sentencing of three offenders to 80 hours of community service.
Women have segregated wings with female staff in most, but not all, prisons. According to human rights advocates, rape generally was not a problem, although female prisoners also suffered from severely substandard conditions. Due to lack of space in juvenile facilities, juveniles often were kept in prisons with adults. The central prison system maintained one juvenile prison and four lower security remand homes. School facilities and health clinics in all five institutions are defunct; prisoners as young as age 12 perform manual labor from dawn until dusk. Severe overcrowding also is a problem at juvenile detention facilities and in women's wings. The remand home in Kampala, designed for 45 inmates, holds approximately 164 children.
Government agencies have sponsored or participated in numerous conferences on the justice system and prison conditions, and worked closely with international and domestic human rights organizations on prison reform efforts. There were reports that mortality rates decreased following these activities.
Media access to prisons remained limited, but the Government permitted full access to prisons by the ICRC and local NGO's, principally the FHRI and the Uganda Prisoners' Aid Foundation. The UHRC visited numerous prisons and reported on its findings publicly. Prison authorities required advance notification of visits, a process that often was subject to administrative delays.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Members of the security forces at times arrested and detained citizens arbitrarily. According to the Constitution, a suspect must be charged within 48 hours of arrest and be brought to trial or released on bail within 120 days (360 days for a capital offense). If the case has been committed to the court before the expiration of this period, the Constitution does not limit pretrial detention. The Constitution also provides that detainees should be informed immediately of the reasons for their detention; however, in practice the authorities did not enforce these procedural protections. Although some laws conflict with the Constitution, for example, the Public Order and Security Act, which provides for unlimited detention without charge, these laws never have been invoked formally by the Government. Legal and human rights groups, including the UHRC, sharply criticized the excessive length of detention without trial – in many cases amounting to several years – for alleged offenses under other laws, which both violated the constitutional rights of the detainees and substantially contributed to prison overcrowding (see Section 1.c.).
During the year, there were reported detentions of civilians in military barracks, and unregistered places of remand. There were credible allegations that the DMI ordered detainees held incommunicado in police stations or so-called safe houses (see Section 1.c.).
Arbitrary arrest was a problem. On June 8, security personnel believed to be from the DMI arrested Hajji Muhammad Kimbugwe of Nakulabye, a Kampala suburb, detained him at DMI headquarters, and later transferred him to the Central Police Station (CPS). On June 20, he reportedly wrote to the DMI chief, asked him to intervene, and accused the DMI of having arrested him three times without charging him; he still was in detention at year's end.
On December 20, police arrested 93 members of the Ndawula religious group, including their leader John Musoke Ssemanda, in Wakiso district, central Buganda, allegedly to prevent a repeat of the March 2000 killing of 1,000 citizens. On December 21, Ssemanda, two priests, and a priestess were charged with managing an unlawful society. Police released 88 of the followers after clearing them of criminal liability; the other 5 still were in detention at year's end.
Police at times harassed and detained opposition activists and journalists (see Sections 1.c., 2.a., 2.b., and 3). During the presidential and parliamentary campaigns, there were many reports of arbitrary detention; however, few, if any, instances were reported to human rights groups or independently verified. Many supporters of the opposition were arrested and detained; some persons were arrested at unauthorized demonstrations (see Section 2.b.). There also were reports that persons were arrested for hanging posters of opposition candidates and for supporting opposition candidates.
On February 12, security personnel believed to be from the DMI reportedly kidnaped, took to a military facility, and beat Hajji Ramathan Muwonge, a campaign manager of Besigye, and his two sons; they were released 24 hours later. Human Rights Watch reported that a nurse in Muwonge's house at the time of the abduction also was beaten. On March 1, three soldiers were sentenced to 3 months in prison for receiving Muwonge "without clear instructions from the relevant authorities." In December Muwonge sued the Government for wrongful detention and assault and demanded $14,500 (250 million shillings) in compensation; no action was taken on this case by year's end.
On February 13, PPU members reportedly arrested and detained for 2 days Lieutenant Bariba Kafara, Besigye's chief campaigner in Rukungiri, and allegedly beat several persons traveling with him.
On February 20, DMI security personnel arrested Rabwoni Okwir, youth M.P. and Besigye's National Youth Coordinator, at Entebbe airport, following his statement that he had been forced by top military officers to sign a document withdrawing his support for Besigye; he was released after 20 hours and alleged that he was beaten upon his arrest and later stripped naked at DMI headquarters (see Section 3). On February 27, Okwir left the country to live in self-imposed exile.
On February 28, UPDF soldiers in Tororo arrested and detained several Besigye supporters for participating in a demonstration against army torture; they were released without charge. The Besigye supporters alleged that soldiers commanded by Major Kakooza Mutale tortured them while they were in custody.
On March 20, police in Kampala detained Besigye and other supporters at Entebbe airport for 3 hours on pending charges of terrorism and sedition; they later were released without charge.
On April 17, Winnie Byanyima, M.P. for Mbarara Municipality and Besigye's wife, was arrested and charged with sedition after she accused the Government of training Rwandan Interahamwe soldiers. On September 2, security personnel, some of them believed to be from DMI, arrested Deus Bainomugisha, former Besigye campaign manager, at the home of Winnie Byanyima's brother in Kampala. On September 7, police released Bainomugisha on bail, pending an investigation. On September 10, police in Kampala again arrested and detained Winnie Byanyima after Bainomugisha disappeared. Byanyima had posted bail for Bainomugisha following his arrest on September 2. On September 12, a court in Kampala charged Byanyima with unlawful possession of a firearm and seven bullets; she later was released on bail, and the case was pending at year's end.
On November 16, Frank Byaruhanga, a former Besigye campaign manager who had been deported from Tanzania on allegations that he was recruiting rebels to overthrow the Government, and three others were arrested and remanded to Kigo Prison on treason charges on the same day. In December he petitioned the Magistrate's Court and the UHRC and alleged unfair treatment in prison. The petition was pending at year's end.
Arbitrary mass arrests, known as "panda gari," remained a problem. On July 7, more than 200 persons were arrested in Kasese, and on July 9 and 10, more than 250 persons were arrested in the Kampala area primarily for petty crimes and desertion from the army. Most were released after screening and those without papers were referred to district court; there were no reports of further action taken. On July 10, approximately 300 persons were arrested and detained for 11 hours during a joint operation conducted by mobile police and the UPDF in Masaka town, central Buganda. Many of those arrested during the mass arrests were believed to be petty criminals; however, 28 persons, allegedly members of the ADF, were believed to be involved in a series of urban bombings (see Section 1.c.). Many of the suspects detained on July 10 were released after screening, and the others were referred to the courts.
Unlike in the previous year, the rearrest of Muslim suspects following either their release on bail or acquittal did not occur. In June 2000, authorities released 28 of 68 members of the Buseruka Islamic Tabliq group who had been rearrested in 1999 after an acquittal on murder charges. Another 2 suspects were released in November 2000; however, the remaining 38 suspects maintained their innocence and chose to stand trial, rather than accept an offer of amnesty (see Section 2.c.). Their trial started in July, but on September 27, the hearings were suspended because one of the suspects was seriously ill and later died of natural causes while on remand. On November 21, the Kampala High Court acquitted of treason charges 22 of the 37 Buseruka Tabliq Muslims for lack of evidence; the remaining 15 Muslims' cases were pending at year's end.
The UPDF sometimes detained amnesty seekers, both adults and children, at Gulu military barracks in order to debrief former LRA soldiers or captives. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that the military detained and used the children to help find LRA landmines and arms caches (see Sections 5 and 6.c.).
There were fewer reports during the year that members of the LDU's arrested citizens.
At the beginning of the year, all charges against 11 Makerere University students who disrupted a referendum rally held by the President in 2000 were dropped (see Sections 1.c. and 2.b.).
In 2000 police arrested and later released Sam Lyomoki, General Secretary of the Uganda Medical Union, after he protested in front of State House (the President's residence) (see Section 6.a.).
In 2000 authorities arrested several religious leaders and church members for incidents including killings, defilement, rape, abduction, theft, and unlawful assembly; their cases were in various stages of prosecution at year's end.
In January 2000, more than 5,000 persons were arrested and detained for 24 hours during a joint operation conducted by mobile police and the UPDF in Gulu Municipality. UPDF deserters were transferred to the military justice system, and 30 youths without identification papers were transferred to the police for prosecution; there was no further information available at year's end.
On June 28, the UHRC Tribunal awarded approximately $2,800 (5 million shillings) to S. Erau as compensation for having been detained for 18 days, tortured, and deprived of his property by the UPDF and police in 1999.
Pretrial detainees comprise nearly three-fourths of the prison population. The average time in pretrial detention is between 2 and 3 years. An estimated 14,000 of the approximately 20,000 persons being held in the central prisons and in the local government-run prisons are pretrial detainees. Congestion and delays in the legal system have resulted in an increasing number of detainees each year; however, due to a concerted effort to clear the backlog, the number of criminal cases pending before the High Court decreased from 1,500 in 1999 to 149 cases during the year. A census of the central prison population conducted in 1999 indicated that at least one-sixth of the inmates had been detained beyond constitutional limits. During the year, the UHRC heard several cases brought by prisoners challenging the length of their detention. For example, on April 26, the UPDF arrested 19-year-old Geoffrey Okello based on the allegation that he possessed a firearm illegally. He was detained at Koro barracks in Gulu and later transferred to UPDF headquarters in Gulu town. On July 16, the case was reported to the Gulu branch of the UHRC, and on September 12, he was released after an appeal to the UPDF commander.
The Constitution does not prohibit forced exile; however, the Government does not use exile as a means of political control. On August 18, Kizza Besigye fled the country; a number of persons on his National Task force, including Rabwoni Okwir, Deus Bainomugisha, Ann Mugisha, and James Opoka also allegedly left the country during the year at least partially as a result of government harassment. Okwir described his situation as self-imposed exile.
In January 2000, the President signed an amnesty law covering all current and former rebels (see Section 1.e.). Some former rebels returned to the country during the year to take advantage of the amnesty. Under the terms of the amnesty act, the Government released some persons convicted of treason and other suspects; however, by year's end, the Government made only limited progress in implementing provisions in the act related to the repatriation and resettlement of former rebels because of funding constraints.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, the President has extensive legal powers that influence the exercise of this independence. The President nominates, for the approval of Parliament, members of the Judicial Service Commission, which makes recommendations on appointments to the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court. The lower courts remained understaffed and weak.
The highest court is the Supreme Court, followed by (in descending order) the Court of Appeal (which also functions as the Constitutional Court for cases of first instance involving constitutional issues), the High Court, the Chief Magistrate's Court, and local council (LC) level 3 (sub-county) courts, LC level 2 (parish) courts, and LC level 1 (village) courts. A minimum of six justices may sit on the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal or Constitutional Court. In addition there are a few specialized courts that deal with industrial and other matters. The Industrial Court (IC), which arbitrates labor disputes, structurally is parallel to the chief magistrate's court. There also is a military court system.
Although once considered a useful innovation, the LC courts often are thought to be sources of injustice due to such factors as bribery and male dominance in rural areas. The LC courts have authority to settle civil disputes, including land ownership and payment of debts, and criminal cases involving children. These courts, often the only ones available to villagers, frequently exceed their authority by hearing criminal cases, including murder and rape. LC court decisions may be appealed to magistrate's courts, but often there are no records made at the village level, and many defendants are not aware of their right to appeal.
The civilian judicial system contains procedural safeguards, including the granting of bail and the right of appeal to higher courts; however, an inadequate system of judicial administration and a lack of resources, resulting in a serious backlog of cases, have circumscribed the right to a fair trial for many years. The courts, like other branches of government, were impaired by a 4-year civil service hiring freeze, which was relaxed only somewhat in 1998. As a result, criminal cases may take 2 or more years to reach the courts. The case backlog in the High Court, which had increased every year since 1993, was eliminated largely by the end of 2000. Attorneys working in the Office of the Public Prosecutor can be assigned several new cases each day. Some courts continued to observe the constitutionally prescribed limits on pretrial detention, but that practice was not widespread. All nonmilitary trials are public.
Many defendants cannot afford legal representation. The Constitution requires that the Government provide an attorney for indigent defendants accused of capital offenses, but there rarely is enough money to retain adequate counsel. The Uganda Law Society operates legal aid clinics in four regional offices, although its services remain limited due to funding. It assists military defendants as well as civilians. The local chapter of Federacion Internacional de Abogadas/Uganda Women Lawyers Association (FIDA-U) and the FHRI also practice public-interest law from offices in Kampala. In 1999 the Law Development Center established a legal aid clinic to address cases involving children and those accused of petty crimes. A public defense service also was established in 1999, but it did not receive any government funding; it relied solely on donor support.
The military court system does not assure the right to a fair trial. Although the accused has the right to retain legal counsel, military defense attorneys often are untrained and may be assigned by the military command, which also appoints the prosecutor and the adjudicating officer. The sentence passed by a military court, which can include the death penalty, may be appealed to the High Command but not to the High or Supreme Courts. A court-martial appeals process was established in 1997.
The Government continued to arrest and charge persons for treason, especially captured rebel fighters, in numbers greater than the judicial system could manage. In the past, numerous human rights abuses were committed in connection with treason cases, including political detention, detention without charge, detention in unregistered and unofficial places of remand, and mistreatment, including torture. There were reports that at times such abuses continued during the year (see Section 1.d.). At year's end, prison officials put the number of those on remand on the charge of treason at 145, none of whom were children. Detainees included members of the Islamic Tabliq group suspected of supporting ADF rebels; some of whom refused amnesty under an amnesty act signed by the President in January 2000 and remained in detention (see Section 1.d.).
In January 2000, the President signed an Amnesty Law, which covers all persons involved in insurgencies since the Government came into power in 1986. The Amnesty Law has been extended three times for 6-month periods, most recently until June and was expected to be extended again. An Amnesty Commission was established and its members were appointed in June 2000. Since the establishment of the Commission, 1,751 former rebels or collaborators accepted amnesty, of whom 123 had been in prison on charges of treason. During the year, the Government released 123 treason convicts and terrorist suspects under the terms of the law. In addition approximately 1,000 former rebels from the LRA, UNRF-II, and ADF had reported to district authorities or surrendered to UPDF forces and were resettled without passing through the Commission or formally being given amnesty. This figure may include a number of formerly abducted children in the Acholi districts who were not actually rebels (see Section 1.b.). At year's end, the Government was negotiating with a group of approximately 1,200 UNRF-II rebels based in southern Sudan, some of whom had indicated they will return under the amnesty program.
During the year, the President pardoned approximately 900 detainees awaiting trial on various offences, including one prisoner on death row.
There was one political prisoner. Bright Gabula Africa, whose death sentence for treason (plotting an armed coup) was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1995, remained imprisoned pending the outcome of his appeal to the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy, a largely autonomous constitutional body that recommends whether presidential clemency powers should be exercised in a given case.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
The Constitution provides for the protection of privacy, which the Government generally observes; however, there were some exceptions. The law requires that police have search warrants before entering private homes or offices, and the police generally observed this law in practice. There were fewer reports during the year that LDU's arrested citizens without authority. During the presidential and parliamentary campaigns, there were credible reports that security officials searched homes and offices without warrants. The police also sometimes searched vehicles without prior warrants. Prison officials routinely censored prisoners' mail.
Hundreds of thousands of persons remained displaced internally as a result of rebel activity and raids by armed Karamojong raiders (see Section 2.d.).
The Government required that employees in the President's office register their political affiliation in writing (see Section 3).
In March the law was updated to permit female members of the police force to marry without the permission of the police Inspector General.
2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the Government generally respected these rights; however, there were instances in which the Government infringed on these rights. Police at times harassed journalists by holding them at police stations for several hours of questioning.
The media generally are free and outspoken, and there are many privately owned publications and broadcasters. The New Vision is a government-owned daily newspaper with a circulation of 35,000, with up to 10 readers sharing each copy, which is of fairly high quality and sometimes included reporting critical of the Government. The independent Monitor newspaper, with a daily circulation of 22,000, consistently was critical of the Government. The Monitor's circulation rose significantly during the year, particularly prior to the March presidential election, and following Okwir and Besigye's departure from the country (see Sections 1.d. and 3). The East African, a Nairobi, Kenya-based weekly publication that provides extensive reporting on the country, continued to circulate without government hindrance.
A print media law and a broadcast media law require journalists to be licensed and to meet certain standards, such as holding a university degree in journalism or the equivalent. The law also provides for a Media Council that can suspend newspapers and deny access to state information; the Media Council was staffed but not operational during the year. Government officials have not enforced either of the laws in recent years.
There were reports that security forces singled out and ejected journalists who were based outside of Kampala, particularly those working for the independent media, from open meetings and press conferences and harassed and illegally detained them. During the year, there were reports of this occurring in Soroti and Gulu.
Government ministers increasingly have spoken publicly against obscenity and for "press responsibility." On October 2, the editor and four staff members of the Red Pepper, a weekly newspaper that began publication during the year, were arrested, and on October 3, three persons, including the editor, were charged with trafficking in obscenity. The charges followed the paper's publication of photos of secondary school students engaging in sexual behavior at a party in a public park. On October 19, Arinaitwe Rugyendo, the Deputy Editor of the Red Pepper, and his photographer Amon Turyamubona were arrested and charged with four counts of trafficking in obscene publications with intent to corrupt public morals. They were released on bail of approximately $143 (250,000 shillings), and their trial was pending at year's end. On December 14, the newspaper's editor was arrested again on new charges of publishing more obscene material; he was released and a hearing was scheduled for January 2002. The paper continued to publish at year's end.
In December 2000, the Government temporarily banned the regular opinion columns of four journalists with the New Vision newspaper due to past commentary critical of the Government; they allegedly were told to stop writing until after the presidential campaign. The columns of three of the journalists were reinstated 3 weeks later; the fourth journalist transferred to another paper. All four continued writing; however, they temporarily practiced some self-censorship.
Three editors of The Monitor newspaper were arrested in 1999 and charged with sedition and publication of false news in connection with a case in which a woman, Kandida Lakony, claimed to have been abused by the UPDF. The editors were released shortly after their arrests; however, they were required to appear in court numerous times during a prolonged trial period. The case was dismissed on March 6.
The Government controlled Radio Uganda, the only national radio station, and one television station (UTV), whose reporting was not as independent as that of the New Vision newspaper. Radio Uganda's number of listeners has decreased as new stations have begun broadcasting. At year's end, there were at least 40 radio stations, mostly private, operating throughout the country. The Monitor Group Ltd. expanded its services and introduced Kampala's first all-talk and issues-oriented FM radio station. There were four local private television stations and more than a dozen private television stations available via satellite. The number of independent media broadcast sources increased during the year. Several independent media outlets in Kampala broadcast daily or weekly political talk shows, in several languages, which often were very critical of the Government and individual officials, including the President. High-ranking officials often participated in these programs and debated issues with political opponents, particularly during the 2 months prior to the March presidential election (see Section 3). There was no censorship of these programs; however, there were reports that local government officials or politically connected business leaders interfered with programming on local radio stations in the smaller towns.
Radio and television coverage by state-owned media of the March presidential and June parliamentary elections favored Movement activities. Radio Uganda did not provide balanced reporting or equal airtime to candidates. In the independent media and the New Vision newspaper, there was a fairly balanced level of coverage of the President and his leading opponent Besigye, with less coverage of the other candidates. However, overall activities by opposition parties and efforts to promote opposition candidates received less coverage in the media (see Section 3). The Ugandan Election Monitoring NGO Group (NEMGROUP) reported that the Voice of Teso, a small station based in Soroti, and Hoima Radio denied airtime to competing candidates as a matter of policy.
Uncensored Internet access was available widely in major cities through several commercial service providers; however, it continued to be beyond the reach of most noninstitutional users, despite declining costs as competition increased. There were more than a dozen cyber cafes in Kampala and other cities, and several NGO's offer Internet access.
The Government does not restrict academic freedom, and there are two public and more than nine private universities. Students and faculty have sponsored wide-ranging political debates in open forums. During the year, police dispersed at least one student demonstration that had become violent (see Section 2.b.).
Political education and military science courses known as "Chaka Mchaka" continued during the year, although they were suspended during elections; the courses are not mandatory. Although the Government announced plans to hold such courses for M.P.'s, at year's end, the Government had not held these courses. These courses are criticized as indoctrination in Movement political philosophy. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that the techniques used in some of the courses included intimidation and physical and mental abuse or that some instructors demanded payment for the courses. In addition there were no reports that persons were coerced to take them.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for some degree of freedom of assembly for nonpolitical groups; however, the Government restricts this right in practice. The Constitution bans political parties from holding national conventions, issuing platforms, endorsing candidates, or opening branch offices outside the capital, and on several occasions, police disrupted or intervened and dispersed opposition demonstrations and other events. The Constitution also forbids other activities that would interfere with the Movement system, an elastic provision that the Government, in the past, has interpreted to the detriment of political groups' interests. Permits are not required; however, groups are required to notify the police prior to public gatherings. Police denied permission to hold public rallies to several non-Movement groups during the year; however, in practice many groups held rallies and large gatherings prior to and following the presidential and parliamentary elections, only some of which were declared illegal or disrupted by authorities (see Section 3). For example, on December 26, seven multiparty M.P.'s addressed a large public rally on the ban on political parties in Kampala, and authorities did not interfere. On September 14, the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Affairs banned all meetings and elections within the labor movement until further notice (see Section 6.a.).
There were credible reports from opposition candidates that security personnel, including UPDF soldiers, intimidated them and disrupted their rallies and that local government officials deliberately obstructed opposition political events. On January 18, police in the southwestern town of Kabale blocked Rabwoni Okwir from addressing a rally, allegedly because the organizers had not sought permission from security personnel in the area (see Section 1.d.). Okwir also was blocked from addressing rallies in Kikinzi county in Kanungu district in the southwest. On February 28, UPDF soldiers in Tororo, in the east, arrested several supporters of presidential candidate Besigye for participating in a demonstration in which they protested against army torture (see Section 1.d.).
In February riot police in Kampala forcibly dispersed a student demonstration to protest lax campus security following the February 2 death of student Alex Adiga at a Kampala university, after clashes in which students pelted them with stones and set fire to street barricades.
There were reports that in Soroti and Gulu, journalists working for the independent media were singled out and ejected from open meetings and press conferences (see Section 2.a.).
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that local officials dispersed meetings of religious groups (see Section 2.c.).
During the year, all charges were dropped against 11 Makerere students who were arrested after the group disrupted a referendum rally held by the President in June 2000 (see Sections 1.c.).
No action reportedly was taken against the members of the police who forcibly dispersed demonstrations in September and March 2000.
The Constitution provides for freedom of association; however, the Government restricts this right in practice. NGO's are required to register with the Nongovernmental Organizations Board, which includes representation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs as well as other ministries. The Government approved most NGO registrations.
New legislation that would regulate political party activities was not enacted by year's end. In April the Parliament passed the Political Organizations Bill; however, the President vetoed it because the law contained provisions that would allow political parties to operate at the district level. The President returned the bill to Parliament for amendment; and it was under review in the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee at year's end.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, in the past the Government forcibly disbanded several religious groups. There is no state religion.
Religious groups and foreign missionaries, like other nongovernmental organizations, must register with the Government. The Government continued to refuse to grant registration to the World Last Message Warning Church, due to its leader's pending criminal charges and continuing suspicions following the 2000 cult killings of more than 1,000 citizens (see Section 1.d.). There were no reports that the Government refused to grant registration to any other religious organizations.
Permits were necessary for the construction of facilities, including religious facilities. There were no reports that the Government refused to grant such permits to any religious organization. Mosques operated freely, Koranic schools were common, and Muslims occupied positions of authority in local and central government; however, some Muslim leaders claim that the number of positions did not reflect their percentage of the population. Prisoners were given the opportunity to pray on the day appropriate to their faith. Muslim prisoners usually were released from work duties during the month of Ramadan.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that security officials harassed or detained Muslims, and there were no reports of the rearrest of Muslim suspects following either their release on bail or acquittal; 38 members of the Islamic Tabliq group remained in detention after they chose to stand trial (see Section 1.e.).
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that local authorities forcibly dispersed meetings or services of religious groups. Several churches that had been closed down by police or local authorities were not reopened by year's end. In April 2000, following allegations that the church allowed youths to engage in sexual relationships, the deputy RDC closed the Revival Pentecostal Church in Nseko village, Kasangati; in mid-April 2000, police in Kasese district banned the activities of a church group based in Hima public school, Busongora. In May 2000, the Bushenyi RDC ordered the closure of the Church of the Servants of the Eucharistic Hearts of Jesus and Mary, which allegedly was operating in the guise of a vocational school. These groups remained disbanded at year's end.
Following the March 2000 killings of more than 500 Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God followers and the discovery of mass graves of approximately 500 other persons on properties in Kanungu belonging to the group, the Government launched investigations of numerous religious groups. Three groups were disbanded forcibly, and one religious leader was arrested (see Section 1.d.). On December 20, police arrested 93 members of the Ndawula group, including their leader John Musoke Ssemanda, in Wakiso district, central Buganda, allegedly to prevent a repeat of the March 2000 killing of 1,000 citizens. On December 21, Ssemanda, two priests, and a priestess were charged with managing an unlawful society. Police released 88 of the followers after clearing them of criminal liability; the other 5 still were in detention at year's end. There were no developments in the case of Rukungiri Assistant Resident District Commissioner (ARDC) Reverend Francis Mutazindwa who was arrested in March 2000 for failing to act on information about the activities of the Kanungu cult while he was ARDC; he was released on bail in 2000. In December 2000, the Government appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate the Kanungu killings and the operation of other religious-based NGO's; however, due to the Ministry of Internal Affairs' lack of funds, the Commission's investigation has been delayed.
In 2000 police in Rukungiri district arrested Innocent Bitungwabariho, a leader of the Jesus Christ the King of Salvation church. Bitungwabariho allegedly confined his family to their house for 5 years in order to prevent them from being exposed to sin. In August 2000, he appeared before court in Rukungiri district on charges of participating in an unlawful assembly, being idle and disorderly, and child neglect under section 15, sub-section (I) of the Penal Code Act. Bitungwabariho remained in detention, and his case was ongoing at year's end.
In July 2000, Wilson Bushara, leader of the World Last Message Warning Church, and 17 of his followers were arrested and charged with defilement, rape, abduction, and theft. The group reportedly defiled and raped a 15-year-old girl between August and September 1999. In November 2000, the Director of Public Prosecutions ordered that Bushara and his followers be transferred from the Buganda Magistrates' Court to Luweero where the offenses allegedly were committed. On May 13, the Kampala High Court dismissed the charge of defilement against Bushara due to lack of evidence; however, the other charges and cases against his followers were pending before the Luweero district Magistrates' Court at year's end.
There were no developments in the following 2000 cases: the May case of five members of the Kisaaba Redeemed Church in Kayunga, Mukono district; and the May case of five members of the Mulungimu Full Gospel Church in Luweero.
There were no developments in the case of Nabi Besweri Kiswabuli, the apostle of the Issa Massiya religious group in Iganga district, who in 2000 was charged with assaulting and injuring Daniel Tusubira, a former follower, in 1999. The case was pending at year's end.
Complaints by Muslim groups of government bias lessened during the year; however, the backlash from the death of more than 1,000 citizens at the hands of a religious cult in 2000 resulted in negative public attitudes towards fringe Christian groups and the Government's forcible disbanding of some groups.
Some local governments have restricted the hours of operations of religious organizations that are viewed as cults, for example, prohibiting nighttime prayer meetings. The Government largely has ignored calls for these churches to be shut down and their followers returned to mainstream churches.
Unlike in previous years, there were no reports that the UPDF targeted Catholic clergy in the DRC.
On November 24, unknown persons killed one foreign Catholic priest and two other foreign persons (see Section 1.a.).
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government generally respected them in practice, although there were some limits. Some local officials reportedly demanded payment of fees for permission to change a place of residence. A married woman must obtain her husband's written permission on her passport application if children are traveling on her passport (see Section 5).
During the year, the DMI twice imposed travel restrictions on former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye; on March 17, Besigye was stopped from boarding a plane to South Africa, and again on May 25, he was prevented from traveling to Nairobi, Kenya. He petitioned the UHRC Tribunal against the Government for wrongful restriction of movement; the case was pending at year's end. On June 30, state agents reportedly temporarily blocked Besigye while he was traveling to Mbarara to attend a victory party of his wife, Mbarara Municipality M.P. Winnie Byanyima. The Government also detained Besigye several times during the year, and in August he fled the country (see Section 1.d.).
Attacks by LRA terrorists and armed Karamojong raiders caused many Acholis and Iteso to leave their homes for urban centers, displaced person camps, and villages guarded by the UPDF and LDU's. Although the armed Karamojong raiders did not attack the Acholi during the year, increased incursions by the Karamojong raiders to raid cattle and food had led to the displacement of approximately 81,000 persons, particularly in Katakwi district. It was estimated that approximately half of Katakwi and Gulu district populations were in displacement camps or protected villages due to such attacks. At year's end, there were 559,721 IDP's as a result of violence in the north, west, and northeast according to the U.N. Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs.
There were no laws that provide for the granting of refugee or asylee status in accordance with the provisions of the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol; however, the Government does grant such status in practice. The Government cooperated with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and with other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. As it has done repeatedly in past years, the Government continued to provide first asylum as well as land for temporary resettlement to citizens from neighboring countries and extended this practice to significant numbers of refugees during the year. More than 85 percent of the approximately 180,000 refugees in the country are from southern Sudan; there also are refugees from the DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi.
In the north, government forces continued their policy of maintaining so-called protected villages with UPDF detachments nearby as a means of protecting civilians and denying support to the LRA. Although substantial NGO and donor community assistance has improved the overall conditions in the villages, conditions still remain poor. The Government failed to provide adequate security to the protected villages or camps for IDP's, which were the targets of large-scale rebel attacks (see Section 1.a.).
A Refugee Law Project Report released in June quoted testimonies of refugees and NGO workers regarding the continued pressure to join the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The report referred to accounts of the latest recruitment drive of 1999 in which the SPLA, with the assistance of the UPDF, rounded up males from Keyo, Olua, Mirieyi, and Adjumani town who did not have refugee documents.
During the year, there were reports of the forced return of persons to a country where they feared persecution. In June the Government handed over to the Rwanda authorities three suspected Rwandan rebels. In addition on September 4, 13 Rwandan rebels were handed over to Rwandan officials at Katuna border post in the southern part of the country.
3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Movement domination of the Government and the political process and some restrictive constitutional provisions limited citizens' effective exercise of the right to change their government. Universal suffrage is accorded to adults 18 years of age and older. The Constitution does not provide the right to vote to prisoners, and prisoners were not permitted to vote in the elections during the year. The President dominated the Government, and Movement supporters remained in control of the Parliament; the independence and assertiveness of legislators decreased significantly prior to the June parliamentary elections. The March presidential and June parliamentary elections generally reflected the will of the population; however, there were numerous instances of election-related intimidation, violence, and electoral irregularities, including restrictions on political party activities, which led to a flawed election process.
The Government maintained, at government expense, the Movement Secretariat, an organization that roughly parallels government institutions and is limited to those professing support for the Movement. Political education and military science courses known as Chaka Mchaka continued during the year; the courses were not mandatory (see Section 2.a.). The Government prohibited some non-Movement political gatherings, required that employees in the President's office register their political affiliation in writing, and broke up numerous political meetings not sanctioned by the Movement (see Sections 1.f. and 2.b.). The June 2000 referendum on the role of political parties resulted in the indefinite extension of the Movement form of government and the indefinite continuation of these restrictions on political parties (see Section 2.b.). The referendum process was flawed by restrictions on political party activities and unequal funding. In April the Parliament passed the Political Organizations Bill; however, the President vetoed it because of provisions that would allow political parties to operate at the district level (see Section 2.b.).
In November 2000, the Parliament passed the Presidential Elections Bill, which governs the presidential election process; in December 2000, the President signed the law. The law permits election campaigns to commence after the Electoral Commission (EC) has approved a candidate's nomination. On January 8 and 9, the presidential nominations were held. Under the Local Government Act and the Electoral law, Parliament must approve funding for each electoral exercise. When the legislation is passed, it is submitted to the Ministry of Finance for allocation. The Government's failure to provide timely legislation for the presidential, parliamentary, and local elections impacted adversely on the exercise, and caused the EC funding to be delayed considerably and money for electoral materials to arrive late.
On March 12, six candidates competed in the presidential elections, including President Museveni and Kizza Besigye. President Museveni was reelected with 69.3 percent of the total votes cast, with 27.3 percent of the votes cast for Besigye. The four other candidates received less than 4 percent of the vote. On March 23, Besigye filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging the results of the election; however, on April 21, the Court ruled 3-2 against Besigye, stating that he had failed to prove that the election was so flawed that a new election was required. The Court found that the EC was at fault for its handling of the election. On May 12, three EC officials were arrested and charged with abuse of office and neglect of duty for printing excess cards for the purpose of allegedly rigging the presidential election; on July 31, the charges were dropped. Besigye was detained or called in for questioning following the presidential and June parliamentary elections; he fled the country in August (see Sections 1.d. and 2.d.).
The presidential election generally reflected the will of the population; however, there were many complaints of irregularities prior to and on election day, which led to a flawed election process. These irregularities included: Insufficient time for voter registration, allegations of vote-buying, unauthorized persons tampering with voter rolls, double voting, persons' names being crossed off the voter list before they voted, and votes being given to President Museveni before the votes were cast. For example, in Gulu there were reports that UPDF soldiers were able to vote even if their voter card number did not match their registration number; civilians were not allowed to vote if their numbers did not match. There also were reports that soldiers intimidated voters (see Section 1.c.). Although there were allegations that the voter register contained many illegal names, the percentage of all registered voters accounted for only 70.3 percent of the eligible voter poll.
Several civil and religious organizations prohibited their members from campaigning for candidates during the presidential elections. There were reports that UPDF officers campaigned, and a UPDF officer reportedly was arrested and another went into hiding to avoid arrest for violating army rules against campaigning. The Inspector General of Police restricted presidential candidates and their agents from conducting campaigns in police barracks and cautioned police against wearing T-shirts of candidates, carrying out campaigns, and putting up of posters. The Anglican Church directed its clergy to stop campaigning in churches and not to display candidates' posters.
Army commander Major General Jeje Odongo was appointed head of the country's internal security (in limited "Security Zones of Specified Interest") during the election period. There were numerous reports of election-related violence and intimidation by both the Government and the opposition prior to and on election day (see Sections 1.a. and 1.c.). Police and UPDF forces also harassed and detained opposition politicians and supporters (see Section 1.d.).
The Constitution requires elections through electoral colleges for the 81 special interest group seats reserved for women (56), organized labor (5), persons with disabilities (5), youth (5), and the army (10); however, the UPDF High Command, chaired by President Museveni, elected the 10 army representatives. Salim Saleh, Museveni's brother, was elected in the army election. The number of seats for women increased from 38 to 56 and from 3 to 5 for organized labor in the June elections. In 2000 the Parliamentary Elections Statute was amended to increase the number of worker representatives from three to five, the same as all of the other special interest groups. On June 18-22, the elections were held for these seats; there were allegations of vote rigging and vote buying in some of the elections.
On June 26, elections were held for the 214 directly elected parliamentary seats. There was an increase in the number of M.P.'s following the implementation of a law that increased by 12the number of districts. Although there were numerous instances of election-related intimidation and violence (see Sections 1.c. and 1.d.), observers stated that the elections generally reflected the will of the population. Despite active campaigning by President Museveni and influential members of the Movement, many important Movement M.P.'s lost their seats in the elections; however, a number of them lost to other Movement candidates, which suggested that their defeats were due to local concerns rather than political affiliation. The number of opposition M.P.'s increased to 35 from 12, including 9 UPC (former President Milton Obote's party) M.P.'s and at least 6 M.P.'s from the Democratic Party (DP). Others are affiliated loosely with the DP, and the affiliations of several other M.P.'s are unclear. On June 30, President Museveni stated in a press conference that the Movement had grown stronger in this latest round of elections. He counted 230 M.P.'s in the Movement ranks, giving it a clear majority; however, a number of moderate Movement M.P.'s, including some M.P.'s who were at the forefront of the fight against corruption in the Sixth Parliament, kept their seats in spite of Museveni's active campaigning for their opponents.
Prior to the both sets of June parliamentary elections, the President threatened to campaign against opposition candidates, including Movementists, and such threats increased immediately prior to the election days. During the week of June 11, while addressing an FM radio audience, Museveni accused Winnie Babihuga, incumbent Rukungiri women's M.P. and Besigye supporter, of engaging in election malfeasance, suggesting that she and others could be arrested; Babihuga was not reelected. Museveni appeared at rallies supporting his favored candidates and used the occasion to criticize their opponents.
Election results in several districts were challenged and resulted in recounts. The most notable occurred in Mbarara Municipality. M.P. Winnie Byanyima defeated her opponent Mbarara RDC Ngoma Ngime despite strong support for Ngime by President Museveni and other Movement officials. Ngime challenged the results in the Mbarara Chief Magistrate's court, and on July 4, the Chief Magistrate ordered a recount of Byanyima's votes. During the initial recount, several of the ballot boxes were discovered not to be sealed properly, and the number of ballots in the boxes did not match the official tally sheet within each box. Byanyima petitioned the Mbarara High Court to stay the recount. On July 6, the recount was stayed. Ngime and presidential advisor Fox Odoi requested that the Principal Justice of the Supreme Court intervene; however, the Justice stated that he did not have jurisdiction. On July 17, the High Court ruled in favor of Byanyima and ordered the recount stayed indefinitely. In November Ngime filed an appeal, which was ongoing at year's end.
In the Igara East district in the west, M.P. candidate Spencer Patrick Turwomwe challenged the result of the June 26 election and alleged that his opponent Richard Nduhuura voted twice. On September 18, the High Court annulled the results of the election, and Nduhuura lost his seat after he was found guilty of voting twice. On November 17, a by-election was held; Nduhuura won in what observers viewed to be a generally free and fair election.
Newspaper, radio, and television coverage, in particular coverage by state-owned media of the March presidential and June parliamentary elections favored Movement activities. Efforts to promote activities by opposition candidates received less coverage in the media than the President (see Section 2.a.).
The law sets educational requirements for candidates for public office. Although these requirements are not new, candidates in the March and June elections were required to prove that they met the requirements. Several candidates were disqualified because of false papers, and at least one M.P. resigned his position because it was discovered that he had forged education papers.
During the year, the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) began soliciting the public's opinion and holding public hearings on amending the 1995 Constitution. The CRC was set up to examine the constitutional provisions relating to sovereignty, political systems, democracy, and good governance; however, it did not receive sufficient funding to carry out its mandate.
The percentage of women in government and politics does not correspond to their percentage of the population; however, they play an influential role in national affairs. The Government used quotas in an aggressive effort to place women in positions of authority. Women continued to make strong contributions in Parliament and inside the Movement. The Vice President is a woman, as are 4 ministers and 12 junior ministers in the President's 66-member Cabinet. One woman serves as Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and another woman heads the CID. On November 1, four female members were elected to represent the country on the East African Community (EAC) legislative Assembly. Elections for special interest group seats reserved for women in Parliament were held in the 12 new districts created during the year, and women won 12 additional nonreserved seats for the 295-member Parliament in the June election; as a result, there are 78 female M.P.'s in the Seventh Parliament.
The percentage of minorities in government and politics does not correspond to their percentage of the population (see Section 5). The first M.P. of Asian ethnicity was elected for one of the reserved youth seats in Parliament in June; however, he resigned after it was discovered that he had forged his secondary school diploma.
4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operate without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials generally were responsive to their views. Active domestic groups include the FHRI; FIDA-U; Human Rights Focus, based in the northern town of Gulu; the National Association of Women's Organizations of Uganda (NAWOU), an umbrella group; the International Federation of Human Rights; and the Human Rights and Peace Center, based at Makerere University. The Prisoners' Aid Foundation monitors prison conditions, and the National Organization for Civic Education and Election Monitoring deals with problems related to civil society and political rights. HURINET, a Human Rights Network and an umbrella organization for nine human rights organizations in the country, also continued to be active. The local NGO Uganda Debt Network has been active in trying to address corruption. Government officials frequently attended conferences and seminars hosted by NGO's on social problems. The Government continued to cooperate with NGO's on legal and prison reforms.
The Government allowed visits by international human rights NGO's, including Amnesty International, the ICRC, and the UNHCR. However, since May the ICRC suspended all field activities in the country and in northeastern DRC, following the killings of six ICRC workers (see Section 1.a.). ICRC has maintained only local staff at branches in Kasese, Bundibugyo, Fort-Portal, Gulu, Kitgum, and eastern DRC, until the situation normalizes. ICRC also has suspended visits to military detention facilities (see Section 1.a.).
The Constitution established the UHRC as a permanent independent body with quasi-judicial powers. Under the Constitution, the UHRC may subpoena information and order the release of detainees and the payment of compensation for abuses. The UHRC continued to pursue suspected human rights abusers, including high-level officials in the Government and military, and expanded its operations by opening a second branch office in Soroti district in September 2000. The UHRC Human Rights Tribunal continued to function, and the headquarters received 759 complaints during the year, including some against senior government leaders and military and police officials; the Soroti office received 369 complaints and the Gulu office received 278. Of the 752 complaints received at headquarters: 434 were pending investigations; 159 investigations were completed and were waiting for judgments; 112 were referred to other bodies; 23 were resolved through mediation; 13 were dismissed as outside the mandate of the office; 8 were determined not to be human rights cases; 7 complainants lost interest; and 3 were time barred. Of the 369 complaints received at the Soroti office: 136 were pending investigations; 108 were referred to other bodies; 77 were resolved through mediation; 35 were dismissed as outside the mandate of the office; and 13 were determined not to be human rights cases. Of the 278 complaints received at the Gulu office: 135 were pending investigation; 67 were dismissed as outside the mandate of the office; 36 were referred to other bodies, 26 were resolved by mediation; and 14 were under mediation.
The UHRC does not have the power to intervene in cases pending before a court. The UHRC inspected numerous detention facilities and publicly reported on its findings; in December 2000, the UHRC released its 1999 report. The report cited abuses by security organs and condemned police corruption and inefficiency; it noted instances of denial of the right to assembly, and criticized involvement in the DRC. The President appoints the UHRC's eight-member board.
5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on these factors; however, the Government does not enforce the law effectively in matters of locally or culturally accepted discrimination against women, children, persons with disabilities, or certain ethnic groups. Race was not a factor in national politics. The continued instability in the north led to violations of the rights of some Acholi, an ethnic group that comprises a significant part of the population. Most violations of Acholi rights resulted from LRA actions.
Domestic violence against women, including rape, remained common. According to U.N. statistics, 31 percent of women have experienced domestic violence. There were no laws that specifically protect women from battery or spousal rape, although there is a general law concerning assault. Law enforcement officials, reflecting general public opinion, continued to view wife beating as a husband's prerogative and rarely intervened in cases of domestic violence. Women remained more likely to sue for divorce than to file assault charges against their husbands. These problems continued to receive increasing public attention. Numerous women's rights NGO's sponsored conferences, empowerment sessions, and training programs throughout the country. The Domestic Relations Bill was not passed during the year; however, it was expected to be reintroduced in the next session of Parliament. During the presidential elections, a hotline was set up for women to call the UPDF to seek redress if their husbands threatened violence against them for exercising their right to choose a candidate.
Some men of the Karamojong ethnic group in the northeastern section of the country continued their cultural practice of claiming unmarried women as wives by raping them. Between February and July 2000, Karamojong warriors raped approximately 20 women during raids on neighboring districts in the northeast. An undetermined number of women were victims of abduction and rape by rebel forces (see Section 1.c.). Police and court records indicate reports of defilement (statutory rape) are increasing. According to the Commissioner General of Prisons, 4,000 (38 percent) of all capital cases during the year were defilement cases; the Kasese district Education department recorded 360 defilement cases and Bushenyi department recorded 120 cases during the year.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is condemned widely by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is practiced by the Sabiny tribe, located in the highly rural Kapchorwa district in the east, and by the Pokot tribe (also known as the Upe), which spans the remote northeastern border with Kenya. There are approximately 10,000 Sabiny and approximately 20,000 Upe who live in the country. Among the Sabiny, initiation ceremonies involving FGM are carried out every 2 years. In December 2000, there were reports that approximately 121 Pokot girls and 621 Sabiny women and girls were subjected to FGM when the last ceremony was held. An international human rights NGO offered cattle, goats, and money for scholarships to Sabiny parents who did not allow their daughters to be circumcised during the 2000 ceremony. There is no law against the practice, but the Government and women's groups working with the U.N. Population Fund continued to carry out programs to combat the practice through education. These programs have received strong government support and some support from local leaders. The programs emphasize close cooperation with traditional authority figures and peer counseling. Significant press attention to these ongoing efforts brought public attention to the problem throughout the year.
Although prostitution is illegal, it is known to exist; however, there are no credible statistics available on the incidence.
There were reports of trafficking in persons, primarily children, during the year (see Section 6.f.).
Traditional and widespread societal discrimination against women continued, especially in rural areas, despite constitutional provisions to the contrary. Many customary laws discriminate against women in the areas of adoption, marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In most areas, women may not own or inherit property, nor retain custody of their children under local customary law. Divorce law requires women wanting to prove adultery to meet stricter evidentiary standards than are required for men. Polygyny is legal under both customary and Islamic law, and a wife has no legal status to prevent her husband from marrying another woman. In some ethnic groups, men also may "inherit" the widows of their deceased brothers. Women do most of the agricultural work but own only 7 percent of the agricultural land. There are limits on a married woman's ability to travel abroad with her children (see Section 2.d.).
Female members of the police force no longer are required to obtain permission from the police Inspector General before marrying (see Section 1.f.).
There are active women's rights groups, including FIDA, Action for Development, the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), Akina Mama Wa Afrika, the Forum for Women in Democracy, and NAWOU, which promote greater awareness of the rights of women and children. Women as Partners for Peace-Uganda sponsored a forum to discuss democracy and conflict resolution. FIDA continued with its program on proposed reforms of outdated and discriminatory laws. On December 22, in the eastern district of Tororo, a referendum was held to reform the 1964 bride-price by-law. The revised law would make the bride price a nonrefundable gift to the parents of the bride and was expected to lessen domestic violence when either party seeks divorce. Approximately 60 percent voted in favor of the referendum.
In previous years, the Government devoted only limited funds to children's welfare; however, education received the largest percentage of the budget. The Government demonstrated a commitment to improving children's welfare, particularly through its continuation of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) program. The program provides free education through the seventh grade for a maximum of four children per family, two girls and two boys; however, education is not compulsory. Key components of the UPE program include eliminating compulsory uniform requirements, providing free textbooks, eliminating fees imposed by schools, and the payment of Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) fees by the Government. Although some provisions had not yet been implemented fully by year's end, the UPE had increased funding for education, provided additional skills training for teachers, and reduced the textbook to student ratio. Strained finances, instability in some areas, infrastructure problems, and inadequate teacher training have prevented full implementation. Although the UPE program makes education more accessible financially, parents still must pay for school supplies and some school costs. According to official statistics, there is a 95 percent enrollment rate; however, this figure widely is believed to be inflated as a result of both school dropouts and a tendency of some schools to inflate attendance figures for funding purposes. Recent statistics indicate a decline from 84 percent in 1997 to 76.5 percent in 2000; however, since the implementation of UPE, primary school enrollment has increased from 2.9 million in 1996 to 6.8 million in 2000.
Girls and boys theoretically have equal access to education, and lower grades are divided almost evenly by sex; however, the proportion of girls in higher school grades remains low since families traditionally have favored boys when making financially related educational decisions. Boys also are more likely to finish primary school and perform better on the PLE. The Government continued several programs to promote a national plan for the education of girls; only 54 percent of adult women are literate compared with 74 percent of adult men. Parents' inability to afford schooling has correlated highly with the occurrence of child labor in rural areas (see Section 6.d.).
The Government has not yet implemented effectively the 1996 Children's Statute, which outlines broad protections for children. Government efforts to enforce the statute's provisions were hampered by the large proportion of the population that is below 18 (50 percent of the country's population is under 15), manpower and fiscal constraints on the judiciary, and cultural norms. The law stipulates parents' responsibilities and provides extensive protection for children in a wide variety of areas, including financial support, foster care placement, adoption, determination of parentage, and treatment of children charged with offenses. It also includes provisions on the rights of the child, including a provision that a child shall not be made to work or take part in any activity, whether for pay or not, that is likely to injure the child's health, education, or mental, physical, or moral development; however, the Government has been unable to enforce prohibitions on child labor, particularly in the informal sector (see Section 6.d.). The Children's Statute also requires children with disabilities to be treated and given necessary special facilities – a provision hampered in execution by inadequate funding.
Child abuse remained a serious problem, particularly the rape of young girls or defilement. Only a small fraction of these incidents is reported, especially when the perpetrator is a family member, neighbor, or teacher – as often is the case. In 2000 there were 4,209 reported cases of defilement, an increase from 2,637 in 1999; 2,410 of the cases were investigated, and 2,317 arrests resulted from such investigations. Increasing numbers of accusations reached the courts, although neither conviction nor punishment was common. Cases frequently were reported in newspapers, but a payment to the girl's parents often ended the matter. Despite these obstacles, an increasing number of cases were prosecuted. While defilement carries a maximum sentence of death, that punishment never has been meted out to a convicted rapist. Defilement applies to all cases of sexual contact outside of marriage involving girls younger than 18 years of age, regardless of consent or the age of the perpetrator. The marriage of young girls by parental arrangement is common, especially in rural areas.
Most schools use corporal punishment, although in 1997 the Government banned the beating of secondary school students. There were no developments in the June 1999 case of Peter Masanja, who died after a beating by the Kakungulu Memorial Islamic Institute's director, Hamidulah Llukwago.
FGM is performed on girls in the Sabiny and Pokot tribes (see Section 5, Women).
Estimates placed the number of orphaned children (children missing either parent are considered orphans) at up to 1.7 million. This large number of orphans resulted from previous civil wars, the internal displacement of persons, and HIV/AIDS.
There were fewer allegations of ritual killings of children, and there were no confirmed reports of such killings. In April 14, police in Kigunga village in Goma sub-county, in the eastern town of Mukono, arrested three traditional healers for allegedly kidnaping and trying to sacrifice a 13-year-old boy. The suspects appeared in court and subsequently were remanded to Luzira prison. There were no reports of developments in the case by year's end. In December police in the eastern town of Mbale arrested Sheikh Hamdan Madanga, a witch doctor, for possession of a human head in his shrine.
Child labor is a problem, especially in the informal sector (see Section 6.d.).
The legal recruitment age for military service is 18 years; however, in practice some recruiters have allowed 17-year-olds to enlist. LDU's may recruit children under the age of 18 with parental consent.
The UPDF at times detained LRA child soldiers at Gulu military barracks for a few weeks or months. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that the military used the children to help find LRA landmines and arms caches. During the year, 163 Congolese child soldiers who were brought to the country by the UPDF in August 2000 for political education and military training were flown back to the DRC and reunited with their families (see Sections 1.b. and 1.c.). There were several instances during the year in which abductees, mostly children, escaped or were freed and returned to the country.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports from the DRC that UPDF and Rwandan troops, in addition to RCD rebels, abducted young women from the villages they raided (see Section 1.b.).
The ADF and LRA abducted many children, using them as guards, laborers, soldiers, and, in the case of the LRA, for forced sex (see Sections 1.b., 6.c., and 6.f.).
Persons With Disabilities
The Constitution provides that persons with disabilities have "a right to respect and human dignity" and requires that authorities take appropriate measures "to ensure that they realize their full mental and physical potential;" however, despite this provision, there was no statutory requirement for government services or facilities, such as accessibility of buildings for persons with disabilities. Most buildings have one story, but in larger towns with multistory buildings, there often are no elevators; even where they do exist, they rarely are reliable. Widespread discrimination by society and employers limits job and educational opportunities for those with physical disabilities. In 1998 the Government appointed a Minister of State for Disabled Persons. A Department for Disabled Persons also exists under the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development; however, these bodies and positions have little funding to undertake or support any initiatives.
The Children's Statute also requires children with disabilities to be treated and given necessary special facilities – a provision hampered in execution by inadequate funding.
There are amicable relations between the various religious communities, and no religious group actively impinges upon the right of others to worship. However, the backlash from the spring 2000 killing of more than 1,000 citizens at the hands of a religious group resulted in negative public attitudes towards fringe Christian groups. Some officials of "mainstream" Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim religious organizations have called for the closure of Christian churches, which are viewed as "cults."
The general assembly of the Ugandan Joint Christian Council (UJCC), a religious body composed of Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox Churches that has engaged in election activities including civic education and monitoring, referred applications for membership to the association by other spiritual and Pentecostal churches to the UJCC executive, which could help ease tensions between those churches and evangelical groups.
On October 19, the heads of various religious denominations in the country including the Anglican, the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council endorsed the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda Constitution, whose objective is to strengthen inter-religious dialog among the main religious groups and to advocate social topics of concern to all groups.
Civil strife in the north led to the violation of the rights of members of the Acholi tribe, who largely reside in the northern districts of Gulu and Kitgum. Both government forces and the LRA terrorists – who themselves largely are Acholi – committed abuses. LRA fighters in particular were implicated in the killing and kidnaping of Acholi tribe members (see Sections 1.a. and 1.b.); the UPDF record in the north continued to improve markedly. Abuses were inflicted upon members of the Bakonjo and Bamba tribes in the west by ADF rebels.
During the year, raids by armed Karamojong raiders in Katakwi district in the northeast resulted in approximately 51 deaths. The raids may have exacerbated ethnic tensions in the northeast (see Section 1.a.). In December the Government began a disarmament program for the Karamojong raiders, and by year's end, thousands of weapons had been turned in.
6. Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The Constitution provides for the right of every person to join workers' associations or trade unions, and the Government respects this right in practice; however, it has not responded to a 1997 application for registration by the Uganda Allied Teachers' Union. Employers often do not observe the requirement to recognize a union. The right to form unions extends to civil servants. However, many "essential" government employees are not permitted to form unions; these include police, army, and permanent secretaries in the ministries, heads of departments and state-owned enterprises, school principals, and other management-level officials. The Government has failed to enforce the rights of some employees to join unions in newly privatized industries and factories. The number of reserved parliamentary seats for organized labor increased to five during the June elections (see Section 3).
The law allows unionization if 51 percent or more of the work force supports it and if the proposed union represents at least 1,000 employees. These requirements effectively prevent the right of workers in the private sector to form unions. The International Labor Organization (ILO) notes that this dual requirement may deprive workers in smaller bargaining units, or who are dispersed over wide geographical areas, of the ability to form unions or exercise collective bargaining rights, in particular where no trade union represents an absolute majority of the workers concerned (see Section 6.b.). Both the ILO's Committee of Experts (COE) and Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) have requested that this dual requirement be amended, and at year's end, there was a draft bill pending before Parliament that would reduce to 20 the number of workers required to form a union.
The National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU), the largest labor federation, includes 19 unions with a membership of 80,000, or approximately 5 percent of the workforce. The NOTU is independent of the Government and political parties. Among its members are medical workers, including doctors, and the civil service union. During the year, two new members joined NOTU: The Uganda Fisheries and Allied Workers and Uganda Media Unions. The NOTU's influence on the overall economy remains small, since approximately 90 percent of the work force are peasant farmers. Even in areas in which cash crops are significant, unionization has remained practically nonexistent.
The Constitution confirms the right to strike; however, the Government seldom acts in defense of the worker's right to strike, and government policy requires that labor and management make "every effort" to reconcile labor disputes before resorting to strike action. This directive presents unions with a complicated set of restrictions. If reconciliation does not appear to be possible, labor must submit its grievances and notice to strike to the Minister of Labor, who usually delegates the dispute to the Industrial Court (IC). In principle IC rulings are final; however, its decisions have been appealed by employers who claimed that they doubted the impartiality of the Court. In previous years, in the absence of verdicts from the IC, the Minister of Labor generally did not permit strikes, on the basis that "every effort" had not been exhausted. Frustrated laborers often went on strike anyway, protesting credibly that they were not paid a wage that provides a decent standard of living.
In 2000 the IC President was criticized for the Court's impartiality and subsequently was "promoted" from her post allegedly because of this impartiality; in May the President appointed Constantine Rwaheru as the IC president. In 2000 police arrested and detained for 2 hours Sam Lyomoki, General Secretary of the Uganda Medical Union, after he protested in front of State House (the President's residence) the absence of a successor as well as the Government's failure to comply with the decision of the Advisory Committee on Wages to raise wages and salaries; he never was charged.
On February 6, more than 400 workers, including top managers, of the Kampala-based Crown Beverages Ltd. went on strike for the second time in a month demanding the resignation of the Chief Executive, whom they said was responsible for poor working relations. The workers reportedly resumed work after pleas from the Board Chairman. On April 10, workers of the Radio Uganda Current Affairs Department in Kampala went on strike, protesting the nonpayment of salaries since October 2000. On April 11, the strikers resumed work after management paid them 2 months of more than a year's back salary. On August 30, workers of Windsor Lake Victoria Hotel went on strike for 2 weeks following the firing of Moses Mauku, a strong unionist, in what the workers' viewed as a move to undermine the union movement. Following the strike, the hotel management reportedly fired 76 of the workers; although the NOTU and the hotel's management later offered the 76 workers the opportunity to return to work, the workers rejected the offer. As a result, they were considered to have left voluntarily.
On September 14, the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Affairs banned all meetings and elections within the labor movement until further notice. The Ministry also reportedly nullified all elections and resolutions of any trade union meetings held since April. The ban came a month after two unions suspended their general secretaries and two others had called delegates' conferences. According to the Government, the unions had been engaged in undemocratic activities and political agitation outside what is allowed in the 1975 Trade Union Decree, and therefore were banned until further notice. The ban still was in effect at year's end.
Labor unions freely exercised the right to affiliate with and participate in regional and international labor organizations. The NOTU is a member of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The law provides for the right to organize and bargain collectively, specifying that a workplace may be unionized if a majority of the employees supports doing so (see Section 6.a.); however, true collective bargaining takes place only in the small private sector of the modern economy. There were examples of collective bargaining in the private sector during the year; for example, Kakira Sugar Works officials and the union agreed to increase workers' salaries. In the modern sector, the Government by far is the largest employer (civil service and state-owned enterprises), and it dominates the bargaining process. The Government has adopted a tripartite (government-employers-labor) cooperative approach to setting wages and resolving labor disputes. Both the Government and employers may refer disputes to the IC.
In 1999 the Uganda Textile, Garments, Leather, and Allied Union filed a complaint against the Government with the ILO for failure to support the attempts of workers in the textile sector to exercise their right to freedom of association; the case was closed in June 1999.
The law does not prohibit antiunion discrimination by employers, and union activists are not protected sufficiently from retribution by employers for union activities; however, there were no reported incidents of government harassment of union officials. Unionization continued to be blocked effectively by some industries, especially in the textile, hotel, and construction sectors. Labor organizers complained that laws requiring a minimum of 1,000 persons in order to form a union hindered their activities. The Government only took limited action on organized labor complaints, but pointed out that the refusal to allow unionization is a constitutional violation.
There were no developments in the February 2000 case of 21 workers who were dismissed in connection with a strike at the Nytil Picfare textile factory.
There are no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including forced and bonded labor by children; however, a lack of resources prevented the Government from enforcing this prohibition effectively. There was strong evidence that prison officials hired out prisoners to work on private farms and construction sites, where often they were overworked. Throughout the country, prison officials routinely augmented their meager pay with crops grown by prisoners on the prison grounds. Male prisoners performed arduous physical labor while female prisoners produced marketable handicrafts such as woven basketry. Juvenile prisoners perform manual labor, often 12 hours per day (see Section 1.c.). Compensation, when paid, generally was very low, although the law demands that pretrial detainees must receive back pay for all work that they have performed once they are released (see Section 1.c.).
The UPDF at times detained LRA child soldiers at Gulu military barracks for a few weeks or several months. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that the UPDF used children to help find LRA landmines and arms caches.
Both the ADF and the LRA abducted civilians for training as guerrillas; most victims were children and young adults, whom the ADF and LRA terrorized into virtual slavery as guards, laborers, soldiers, and, in the case of the LRA, as sex slaves (see Sections 1.b. and 6.f.).
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for
The law prohibits employers from hiring workers below the age of 18; however, child labor is common, especially in the informal sector. The Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development is charged with enforcing the law on child labor, but it has limited financial means to do so. Part of the problem is demographic, because half of the population is under 15 years of age. Many children leave school and go into agricultural or domestic work in order to help meet expenses or perform the work of absent or infirm parents, a situation common throughout the country (see Section 5). The problem is acute particularly among the large orphan population.
Most working children are employed in the informal sector, often on the subsistence farms of extended family members or as domestic servants. In urban areas, children peddle small items on the streets, are involved in the commercial sex industry (particularly in border towns and in Kampala), or beg for money. Although adults do most tea harvesting, some children were employed in this sector as well. Some of the country's orphans engage in labor activities.
It is estimated that 60 percent of all land-based trade in the country is informal. Smuggling is one of the larger informal industries, and employs large numbers of child laborers at the borders with Kenya and Tanzania. Children walk back and forth across the unguarded borders, transporting small amounts of fuel, sugar, coffee, or other commodities.
Government efforts to decrease the incidence of child labor were boosted by a $1.5 million grant in 1998 from the ILO's International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC). The IPEC program and projects were launched in 1999 to eliminate child labor in the sugar and rice-growing industries as well as a public awareness campaign. Government officials acknowledged that for the IPEC to be implemented, continued judicial and law enforcement reforms were needed. The Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development established a National Steering Committee on Child Labor and a Child Labor Unit to develop a national policy to eliminate child labor; however, such a policy was not developed by year's end. The Government held several awareness training workshops for officials charged with enforcing child labor laws during the year.
The law does not prohibit the worst forms of child labor, nor does the Government have a mechanism to address this problem. However, several human rights NGO's began programs aimed at removing children from hazardous work. No reports about the efficacy of these efforts were available at year's end. In October 2000, consultants working for the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development reviewed four labor laws and created draft legislation consistent with ILO Convention 182; on June 21, the Convention was ratified and new provisions were incorporated into the draft Employment Bill 2000 to comply with international standards; the law had not been passed by year's end.
The recruitment age for military service is 18 years; however, in practice some recruiters have allowed 17-year-olds to enlist (see Section 5).
The law prohibits forced and bonded labor by children; however, a lack of resources prevented the Government from enforcing this prohibition effectively (see Section 6.c.).
Trafficking in children occurs (see Section 6.f.).
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The minimum legal wage is $3.50 (6,000 shillings) per month, a rate set in the early 1960's. This wage is insufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Wages continued to be determined through negotiation between individuals and their employers, unions, and proprietors, or through negotiation within the boards of directors at state-owned industries. Salaries usually are augmented by other benefits such as housing and transport allowances, which often are equal to base wages. The Ministry of Labor's salary scale for civil servants starts with unskilled labor at $44 (75,000 shillings) per month, up to supervisors at $350 (600,000 shillings) per month, plus modest increases for years worked. All include provisions for paid overtime. The higher end of this wage scale would provide minimal standards of living for a worker and family, but most civil servants have great difficulty earning enough money to pay their children's school costs. Many civil servants and their dependents work in second jobs, grow their own food, or seek other ways to supplement their incomes. In industries that employ workers on an hourly basis, the normal workweek was 40 hours. Although there was no legal maximum workweek, a time-and-a-half rate was paid for each additional hour worked. Many industries pay workers by piecework, which avoids overtime and circumvents the prohibition on child labor. Many companies employ workers as "casual laborers" or "contract workers" in order to avoid providing benefits.
The condition of employee housing on the tea and sugar plantations at the major state-owned corporations, and within military and police barracks, was substandard. Sanitation and water facilities often are lacking.
Building codes often are not enforced. Some structures have tripled in height above the original foundations, leading local engineers to express reservations about the structural integrity of these workplaces. Factories generally are sound, but machinery almost always lacks safeguards.
The law establishes some occupational health and safety standards. In September 2000, the Government enacted the Workers' Compensation Act, which significantly increased compensation, based on monthly salaries, for workers injured or killed at work. The Ministry of Labor's Department of Occupational Health is responsible for enforcement of occupational safety regulations; however, in practice inspections are rare, due primarily to lack of vehicles and funding for inspection trips. There were fatal accidents at several construction projects at a rate of approximately one per month. The limited occupational safety regulations under the law do not protect workers who refuse to perform dangerous work from being fired, although strong unions in certain dangerous industries protect such workers.
Foreign workers are protected under the Occupational Health and Safety Law.
f. Trafficking in Persons
The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, there were reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within the country. There is strong evidence that prison officials hired out prisoners to work on private farms and construction sites, where they often were overworked (see Section 6.c.). There were unconfirmed reports that government officials were complicit in the illegal trafficking of Asian workers to the country. The Government made significant efforts to combat trafficking in persons despite severe resource constraints and the civil conflict with the LRA.
In 2000 Molo Songolo, a South African child rights organization, reported that children were trafficked from the country to South Africa; however, the credibility of the report is unknown. The children allegedly were abducted or bought from their parents by organized gangs from Nigeria, DRC, and Angola. There were no further reports during the year.
During the year, there were reports that the country was a transit point for trafficking in persons. On September 28, the Government's Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force arrested six foreigners suspected to be involved in trafficking in persons. On October 26, all were released without charge.
During the year, there were reports that the SPLA forcibly recruited Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda for service in Sudan. A June report published by the Refugee Law Project confirmed that recruitment by SPLA forces was ongoing.
Both the ADF and the LRA abducted civilians for training as guerrillas; most victims were children and young adults whom the ADF and LRA terrorized into virtual slavery as guards, laborers, soldiers, and, in the case of the LRA, as sex slaves (see Sections 1.b. and 6.c.). As many as 4,000 Ugandan children abducted by the LRA held in the southern part of Sudan remained unaccounted for at year's end. In past years, the LRA also reportedly sold and traded some children, mostly girls, or provided them as gifts to arms dealers in Sudan.
In December 1999, in Nairobi, Kenya, the Governments of Sudan and Uganda signed an accord agreeing, among other things, to cease supporting rebel groups and to return abductees. The Sudanese Government permitted the return of a number of LRA captives who previously had escaped LRA captivity during the year; however, the Sudanese Government did not free any abductees still held captive by the LRA.
The Criminal Code prohibits slavery with penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment. The CID is mandated to combat trafficking. The CID did not keep records on the magnitude of the problem, and it was unknown if its efforts have been effective.
Improved civil-military relations in northern areas of the country have helped the UPDF assist victims of the LRA. Between November 2000 and January, the UPDF rescued and repatriated 121 child abductees who had escaped from the LRA (see Section 1.b.). The Government has established protected camps garrisoned by the UPDF to prevent abductions (see Sections 1.a. and 2.d.). The UPDF escorted rescued abductees to NGO facilities, which provide physical assistance and counseling to the children and their families so that the children can be reintegrated into society.